I had an interesting experience the other day that taught me an important lesson about shifting my energy from thinking to action as quickly as possible.
Signed Up for the Wrong Time
I had signed up for an online counseling training a few weeks ago. But the training was scheduled to start in a couple of days, and I still hadn’t received any information about the details of the training. So, I emailed the organization to see what was up. They emailed me back saying they had me scheduled for a different set of dates. I looked up my receipt, and sure enough, I was signed up for the different set of dates. I made a mistake when I registered and signed up for the wrong dates!
I wasn’t available for the new set of dates, so I sent an email back asking if there was any way I could attend the training during the dates I had originally planned for. They said I needed to get permission from my university, since I had used one of my funds to pay for the training. I emailed my admin person at the university, asking for the okay.
Caught in My Thoughts
Then I waited. After I stopped work for the day, I started to get frustrated with myself. “How could I be so stupid to sign up for the wrong date?” I kept saying to myself. I was angry that I had made such a dumb mistake, and I was worried that it wouldn’t work out. Throughout the evening, I kept ruminating about it, getting more and more mad at myself. It wasn’t a very relaxing night.
Getting into Action
The next day, I checked my email. There were a few emails that were sent back and forth between myself, the organization, and the university. But within about an hour, it was worked out, and I was signed up for the correct dates of the training. Everything ended up working out.
After I received the confirmation that I was signed up for the correct training, I chuckled at myself. I was SO UPSET the night before. I was angry and frustrated, beating myself up over and over again for the mistake I had made. But when I actually got into action and started doing the work to fix the mistake, it got resolved pretty quickly. There was a mismatch between my feelings the night before, and what it actually took to fix the problem.
Thinking Doesn’t Usually Fix the Problem
I think there is a lesson here that can be helpful in our lives. When something goes wrong, we can have a lot of thoughts and feelings about the situation. We can get upset, frustrated, and angry with ourselves or the world. We tend to ruminate and work ourselves into a frenzy with our thoughts. This process isn’t usually very helpful, and it doesn’t tend to fix the problem.
Moving from Thoughts to Action
To make progress toward a solution, we have to get out of our head and into action. Action—actually doing something—is where the money is. A lot of times, what happens is similar to my experience—once I go to work to actually resolve the problem, it isn’t that bad.
Get into Action Quickly
The take home message is this: If you’re facing a problem or difficult situation, don’t get stuck in your thoughts. As quickly as possible, move from thoughts to action. Get yourself going on solving the problem as fast as you can.
Close the Loop
This is also why I try to not spend a lot of time thinking about a problem if I don’t have the time and energy to actually do something to solve it. For example, a lot of people check their email constantly, even when they don’t have the time to respond to email or address the issue that the email brings up. This creates a situation where all you can do is think and stress about the problem. Instead, try to limit your exposure to email. Only check your email when you actually have time to respond and deal with what comes up. As much as possible, try to “close the loop” as fast as you can.